Behind the Mic: CBS Taps Tony Romo to Replace Phil Simms; Rex Ryan Joins ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including deals, departures, and new assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Tony Romo replaces Phil Simms as CBS’s top NFL analyst, Michelle Beadle is named ESPN’s full-time NBA Countdown host, Rex Ryan joins ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Tony Gonzalez departs the NFL Today, Fox add A.J. Pierzynski to its MLB booth team, and CSN Chicago picks up Scott Podsednik. 

Tony Romo will become CBS Sports’ lead NFL game analyst beginning with the 2017-18 NFL season. Romo, who played for 14 years with the Dallas Cowboys, will join Jim Nantz and Tracy Wolfson on the lead announce team for the Network’s coverage of THE NFL ON CBS on Sunday afternoons and Thursday Night Football.

The move displaces Phil Simms from the lead NFL analyst spot at CBS Sports and no official word yet on what the future holds for the announcer. Simms, 61, is under contract for at least two more years at CBS and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus has said that he hopes Simms can stay with CBS. For his part, Simms told the New York Daily News that “I am not done,” via text message…

Michelle Beadle has been named the full-time host of NBA Countdown on ABC and ESPN. In this role, Beadle will lead the company’s NBA pre-game and halftime shows, including for the NBA Finals on ABC. She will also host ESPN’s and ABC’s studio coverage throughout the NBA Playoffs, which includes ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the Western Conference Finals. Beadle will host the remaining regular-season editions of NBA Countdown on ESPN and ABC, including for the season finale of NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC on April 8, at 8 p.m. ET. She will also continue to serve as a co-host for SportsNation, which airs Monday-Friday on ESPN2 at 4 p.m. Beadle joined NBA Countdown at the start of the current season, and has led ESPN’s regular Wednesday and Friday episodes. She also hosted ABC’s NBA Countdown on Christmas day…

…Former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is joining ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. Starting in September, he will make weekly appearances on the NFL pregame show, while contributing to SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and more. Ryan, who was a guest analyst during ESPN’s Postseason NFL Countdown on Super Bowl Sunday in Houston in February, made his ESPN debut on April 8, when he called the Florida State University Spring Game in Tallahassee, Fla. Ryan served as head coach of the Bills the past two seasons (2015-16) and for the Jets from 2009-14, leading the franchise to back-to-back AFC Championship appearances…

Tony Gonzalez is leaving The NFL Today after three years with the network, according to’s Richard Deistch. CBS hired the future Hall of Famer after as an analyst in February 2014 after he played 17 seasons at tight end with Kansas City and Atlanta. Gonzalez said he made the decision, and cited family and travel as his main reasons. Gonzalez cited family and travel as his main reasons for leaving CBS…

…Two-time MLB All-Star catcher A.J. Pierzynski joins the FOX Sports broadcast team full-time for the 2017 FOX MLB season. Pierzynski worked his first game on Wednesday, April 5, teaming with Kenny Albert (play-by-play) and Ken Rosenthal (reporter) for a matchup between the N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays. Hired by FOX Sports initially to be an analyst for the 2011 MLB postseason, Pierzynski joined the FOX Sports team again in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In 2017, Pierzynski will provide game analysis, as well as make regular appearances on FS1’s MLB WHIPAROUND. A two-time MLB All-Star (2002, 2006), the left-handed hitter won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005 and garnered the Silver Slugger Award in 2012…

…CSN Chicago has added former White Sox standout and 2005 World Series hero Scott Podsednik to its White Sox Pregame Live presented by The Kowalis Family of Dealerships and Subaru White Sox Postgame Live as an additional studio analyst on a number of select games this season.  Podsednik will team up with veteran CSN White Sox Pre/Postgame Live host Chuck Garfien and analyst/White Sox legend Bill Melton throughout the 2017 MLB season.  The announcement was made by Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for CSN Chicago. Podsednik’s debuted on Opening Day (April 3). In addition to his White Sox studio analyst duties, Podsednik will also make select appearances on CSN’s weeknight sports discussion program, SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, on the early edition of In the Loop presented by Comcast Business, and on’s popular “White Sox Talk” podcasts presented by Wintrust. Podsednik, a standout defensive outfielder and perennial base stealing threat, played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues, including four years in a White Sox uniform (2005-07, 2009).


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